Tue, Feb 13, 2018 - Page 1 News List

IOC boss Bach to visit N Korea after Games close

US SHIFT:The ‘Washington Post’ cited Mike Pence as saying that the US is ready to engage in talks about North Korea’s nuclear program with the Kim regime

Staff writer, with agencies in PYEONGCHANG, South Korea

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, right, talks to Reuters reporters at the Main Press Center in Pyeongchang, South Korea, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach is to visit North Korea after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as part of an agreement between the IOC and North and South Korea, the committee said yesterday.

Bach had been invited by the North Koreans during talks between the IOC and the two Koreas on Jan. 20 in Lausanne, Switzerland, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.

No dates have yet been confirmed, Adams said, adding that the visit was part of last month’s agreement that confirmed North Korea’s participation at the Games.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been using the Games in his efforts to re-engage with the North and to pave the way for talks over the North’s weapons program.

However, Bach dismissed concerns that the North has tried to “hijack” the Games.

Bach said he regarded North Korea’s participation purely in sporting terms despite the rapid round of diplomacy between the two Koreas during the opening days of the Games.

“This is about sport and this the IOC made very clear,” Bach told Agence France-Presse yesterday in an interview. “This is about the role of sport to build bridges, to open doors and nothing more.”

“It’s just a symbol for sport and it’s a symbol for the fact that when you go over these bridges you can come to a positive result,” he said.

“Now it’s for politics to take over,” Bach said during a visit to The Associated Press office at the Olympics. “You know sport cannot create peace. We cannot lead their political negotiations. We have sent this message — this dialogue — that negotiations can lead to a positive result. Now it’s up to the political side to use this momentum.”

In related news, US Vice President Mike Pence said the US is ready to engage in talks about North Korea’s nuclear program even as it maintains pressure on Kim’s regime, signaling a shift in US policy.

Pence and Moon agreed to pursue dialogue with the North during conversations in Pyeongchang, the Washington Post said yesterday.

Pence dubbed the new strategy “maximum pressure and engagement at the same time.”

“The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization,” the Post quoted Pence as saying during an interview on his way back to the US.

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